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US judoka Hatton, 2020 Olympic hopeful, dead at age 24

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Washington (AFP)

Jack Hatton, considered one of the top United States judo prospects for next year's Tokyo Olympics, has died unexpectedly at age 24, USA Judo announced Wednesday.

Hatton achieved his top result in the world judo Grand Prix circuit in April 2018 with a silver medal finish in the half-middleweight (81kg) class at Antalya, Turkey.

"It is with extremely heavy hearts that USA Judo announces the unexpected passing of USA Judo national team member, Jack Hatton," the US national governing body said in a statement which did not give a cause of death.

"We extend our sincere condolences to the Hatton Family and Jack?s teammates, coaches and friends. Jack was one of America's top judo players and was a multi-time medalist for USA Judo in various competitions across the globe.

"Jack made an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and he will not be forgotten. We grieve with the entire USA Judo and international judo community during this tough time."

Hatton reached the second round in each of the past three Judo World Championships, the most recent last month in Tokyo in his final competition, and lost in a bronze medal match at last month's Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

"I'm deeply moved by the sudden death of @USAJudo international Jack Hatton," tweeted International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer. "On behalf of @Judo I send my sincere condolences and wishes to USA Judo and Jack's family and friends."

Hatton trained under Jimmy Pedro, a seventh degree black belt who won the 73kg world title in 1999 and bronze medals at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics.

Pedro's Judo Center in Wakefield, Massachusetts, posted a tribute on Facebook.

"It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the untimely passing of one of our students, teammates, brothers, and friends, Jack Hatton.

"Jack has been a member of Pedro's Judo Center since 2015 and pursuing his dream of becoming a member of the 2020 Olympic Team.

"Along with being a top US Judo athlete, Jack was kind-hearted, caring and an all-around great person. He was a true role model for students at our dojo and judoka all over the country.

"He will be deeply missed... by all of us at Pedro's Judo Center and the rest of the judo world."

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